Reading

“Close your eyes, listen to this recording of the sound of rain on a window.  Imagine yourself, warm and dry inside a library.  What libraries do you remember being in?  Where would you like to be now?  Imagine that in this library, on the shelves, are all the books, magazines and DVDs that you’ve read during your life.  What has reading meant to you at different stages in your life?  You might want to go to a shelf and pick a book you remember enjoying.  Where were you?  What was happening at that time?” 

What a powerful opener Jolene gave to us, leading to us having so much to say to each other!  Just as the people reading in a library may, in their minds, be travelling in many different directions, those of us on the Zoom call had a variety of experiences to relate, and much to think about afterwards as we wrote up our individual pieces for this week’s post.

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Kindness

This group of people is a very kind one.  The natural inclination of us all is to support, listen to and get to know each other. We have created friendly, enjoyable times together from this and a kinship has been born out our shared experiences.  When I was reflecting on this recently, kindness seemed an apt next topic.

My personal experience has been that when people are kind, it can act as a mirror or sometimes magnifying glass to what is truly wonderful in life, ourselves and each other. Kindness can reconnect us to what’s important and it can also restore our hope and energy. In the session I shared the opening of a poem by Edgar Alan Guest who summarises this beautifully.

“One never knows
How far a word of kindness goes;
One never sees
How far a smile of friendship flees.
Down, through the years,
The deed forgotten reappears.”

Kindness is a state of being as well as an action, so to encourage people to connect with the emotions they feel in relation to kindness, I led a guided meditation that included positive wishes for the self and others. I then offered an opportunity to silently visualise and reminisce about kind actions that have been directed towards them during lockdown as well as in the past.  People went on to share, in pairs and then the group, moments of helpfulness, compassion, generosity and thoughtfulness that have stayed with them. 

It was a lovely session to be part of and I hope you experience some of the glow of warm kinship that exchanging these values and memories brought us.  I also hope that you are reminded of acts and moments of kindness that have shaped and influenced you throughout your life. Perhaps you would even like to share a memory of your own using the “Leave a Reply” feature at the end of this post?  We would certainly like to read it.

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Entertainment

Our spirits were so lifted, after we’d discussed entertainment, past and present, in the Zoom break-out rooms.  Nury, originally from Iran, explained how much he appreciates British humour, especially the old situation comedies he’s been watching on TV, such as Porridge and Only Fools and Horses.  It was lovely to hear his chuckles.   Thank goodness for television, social media and online arts, helping us now through the challenges of social isolation: a sentiment we all shared!

Family and friends featured strongly in our memories from our younger days, with or without television, playing games both outdoors and in.   Read on for our recollections of those simpler, more carefree times.  

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Celebrations

There was lots of laughter, and many smiles, as we shared our stories of a variety of celebrations and special occasions.  Some of us shared treasured memories of birthday celebrations in the past, as well as our experiences of the recent inventive ways in which we’d been able to celebrate birthdays in spite of the lockdown.   

We also described special gatherings of family and friends to celebrate retirement, weddings, anniversaries and Christmas, as well as bigger public celebrations, including jubilant crowds following a football triumph and even a traditional village celebration to mark the end of the bubonic plague, over 350 years ago!

Food (especially cake!), drinks, music and games played important roles in many of our festivities, as you’ll see in the stories which follow.  

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Routines and rituals

I am fascinated with this topic and spent the whole session grinning as I got to hear about people’s daily and weekly habits, routines and rituals.  I find the way we live our day to day lives riveting, especially during a time where our “normal” routines have been altered so much by external factors.   To me, discussing the patterns we follow can help us understand our own influences, values, way of thinking and lifestyle as well as give a glimpse of what it is really like to live in another’s shoes.

Through the session, lots of themes emerged as well as overlapping habits, people reporting “We have so much in common”.  Maybe you too, the reader will find cheer and comradery in learning about how people spend their days and it will allow you to reflect on the meaning behind your own ‘ordinary’ choices.

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